South Whidbey Record


Concert season at Whidbey Unitarian Congregation ends with ‘A Musical B&B’

May 3, 2013 · Updated 2:51 PM

Musicians Teo Benson, Nola Allen and Kathryn Vinson are among those playing May 11 at the UUWI concert. / Photo courtesy of UUCWI


The final concert of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Whidbey Island 2012-2013 Chamber Music Series is titled "A Musical B&B: Bach, Brahms & British Composers."

The concert will feature noted musicians Nola Allen (piano and harpsichord), Teo Benson (violin), Frances Kenney (oboe) and Kathryn Vinson (mezzosoprano).

Eileen Soskin, well-known Whidbey Island resident, speaker and performer, will provide commentary on the various pieces.

The concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 11 at UUCWI, located off Highway 525 a mile north of Freeland.

It will present Violin Sonata No. 2 in A major, Op. 100, by Johannes Brahms; movements from two Bach sonatas; and songs by British composers Gurney, Stanford, Head, Warlock, and Williams.

The Violin Sonata No. 2 in A major, Op. 100 by Johannes Brahms was written in Thun, Switzerland in 1886 and is considered the most lyrical of Brahms' three violin sonatas as well as the most difficult, requiring a balance of lyricism and virtuosity.

Like the music of Bach and Brahms, the program of British songs is harmonically quite complex, but much more contemporary, and offers a wide range of drama and emotion.

The performers:

Nola Allen, piano: She graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory where she majored in organ and piano. She served as organist and music director of Mercer Island Presbyterian Church for many years. A busy professional accompanist and chamber musician, she made several tours with the Seattle Ladies Musical Club Young Artist Competition winners throughout Washington. She has also performed with the Chaminade Trio for 27 years and is a past president of Ladies Musical Club. She is a gifted watercolorist and has had her paintings exhibited in many local galleries.

Teo Benson, violin: Whidbey Island native Benson began playing violin at the age of 5. He has won scholarships and concerto competitions in Washington State and Colorado and holds a Master of Music degree in Violin Performance from the University of Washington where he studied with Ron Patterson. Benson is a member of the Tacoma Symphony and performs frequently in the Seattle area with an indie folk rock band, The Crying Shame, and a jazz blues band, Stop, Thief!, featuring classically trained musicians performing original compositions by Mr. Benson. For the past three years, he performed as soloist in Guadalajara and Chacala, Mexico. Benson directs the Halcyon School of Music in Seattle where he maintains a full studio of students. He is the lead instructor for the Young Strings Project Outreach, a non-profit organization providing violin instruction to disadvantaged students in the Seattle area and on Whidbey Island.

Photo courtesy of UUCWI  | Oboe soloist Frances Kenney is among the attractions May 11 at the final UUWI concert of the season.Frances Kenney, oboe: "Franny" grew up in a musical family in two wonderfully musical towns, Oberlin and Cincinnati. She began playing the oboe at the age of 11, studying with a conservatory student who demanded that she play long tones every day (and also made reeds for her). Kenney continued her studies in Cincinnati with Linda Baker and attended a magnet school for Creative and Performing Arts. At Indiana University, she studied oboe with Marc Lifschey and Nicholas Daniel as a performance major, with a minor in ethnomusicology. Just prior to finishing her undergraduate studies, Franny left the music field to study early childhood education. Kenney earned her bachelor's degree at Xavier University and then pursued her Waldorf early childhood teaching certificate at the Sound Circle Center in Seattle. After a 10-year hiatus from music, she settled on Whidbey Island with her husband, Nick, and was delighted to rekindle her passion for music. Since 2009, she has performed on oboe with the Saratoga Orchestra. Kenney enjoys a variety of other musical activities including her work as music teacher at the Whidbey Island Waldorf School.

Kathryn Vinson, soprano: Vinson received her bachelor of arts in music degree at the University of Washington. She sang principal operatic roles in Germany and the United Arab Emirates. Vinson has an extensive repertoire of German Lieder and is equally at home with oratorio. She has also been featured on several film sound tracks and sang the mezzo solos for Pacific Northwest Ballet in about 150 performances of their annual production of "The Nutcracker," as well as two productions of "Midsummer Night's Dream." She is currently soloist and alto section leader at All Pilgrims Christian Church.

The UUCWI church is located at 20103 Highway 525, just north of Freeland.

Tickets cost $20 for adults and $10 for students. They are available at Moonraker Books in Langley, Habitat for Humanity in Freeland, at uucwiconcerts@yahoo.com and at the door.

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